India's top telco ventures outside home to take on Africa

Reliance Jio became a top telecoms player in India, with more than 40% of the market share, within 8 years of launching there

India's top telco ventures outside home to take on Africa
An Indian rivalry take shape in the continent

India's leading mobile network operator, Reliance Jio, one of the world's largest in terms of mobile data traffic consumption, is making inroads into Africa. The telco's expansion puts it in competition with Bharti Airtel, its biggest rival back home.

Starting its vie for market share in the continent, Reliance Jio has joined efforts with Ghana via one of its non-dependent subsidiaries, Radysis— an America-based telecoms technology maker—to deliver affordable fifth-generation internet connectivity (5G) across the West African country.

Ghana has, in the same vein, partnered with Tech Mahindra, an Indian multinational information technology services and consulting firm, and Nokia, a leading vendor in network and IP infrastructure, software, and related services. Other local vendors like K-NET and Telecel are in the mix.

“The Government of Ghana, Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, and Tech Mahindra, with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana, today announce their partnership on a new shared infra Next-Gen InfraCo," the official press statement reads.

One of the partners, the Next-Gen Infrastructure Company (NGIC) has been awarded a 5G license and is expected to launch across Ghana within the next 6 months, followed by expansion to other parts of Africa, Radisys said in the official note.

Airtel has been operating in Africa for a little over a decade. In 2010, the company completed the acquisition of Zain Group's Africa business for $10.7 billion and since then has become one of the continent's biggest mobile network operators, with at least 140 million subscribers.

Reliance Jio, on the other hand, became a top player in India with more than 40% of the market share within 8 years of launch. When it entered the market in 2016, it had just a 1.52% share but it quickly outpaced its rivals, including Airtel, to become second, and now, first.

Replicating such success might be a lot more challenging in Africa, where Airtel is already the second-largest telco, coming behind South Africa's MTN. With a presence in 14 markets, the unit in the continent contributes 27% of Bharti's consolidated revenues.

But Reliance Jio has deep pockets and will tap them to create a strong presence. It plans to offer competitive services and bring about innovation in the continent's telecom landscape.

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